Since 2010, my VMware home lab was running on two servers; a HP ProLiant ML 110 G5 and a ML 110 G6 . First the G5 was taken out of active duty because of its 8 GB memory limit. Fortunately, it was possible to upgrade the memory of the G6 from the supported 16 GB to 32 GB, so the G6 remained usable quite some time, for labs with a vCenter Server and 3 virtual ESXi hosts. Recently, it became too tedious to run the latest vSphere editions.
A home lab is a valuable resource for various reasons. When preparing for a VMware exam, like the Datacenter VCP, you can practice installation and configuration of ESXi, vCenter Server, but also other tools like NSX, vROPS or LogInsight. A home lab is also useful for investigations which cannot be done at work in a production environment, to practice changes or upgrades and last but not least break and fix (one of my favorite use cases and highly educational).
If you want to practice with vSphere and other products, there are several options, which mainly depend on available budget, but also on other factors. The possibilities vary from a lab-in-the-cloud such as VMware Hands On Labs to VMware Workstation or a 19-inch rack filled with servers and switches. In my situation, decisive factors were limited space (I live in an apartment) low noise production and low energy consumption and the requirement to run a nested ESXi cluster with tools like LogInsight and vROPS. For a full vSphere 7 plus Kubernetes lab, however, a reasonable amount of hardware is required!
Intel NUCs currently support 64GB of memory. The tenth generation is besides an i3, available in an i5 (4 cores) and an i7 (6 cores). My choice fell on the i5 (budget). Intel NUCs come with a processor, but without memory and disk(s), the final composition can be found on my Gear page.
The set-up of the Intel NUCs is not difficult, on the previously mentioned blogs of Virtuallyghetto.com and Virten.net you can find enough information for a successful installation.
The NUCs are installed with the latest ESXi 7.0 and are managed by a vCSA. To support the deployment of vSphere 6.7 and 7.0 labs, I use two Windows domain controllers (DNS and DHCP), a Windows scripting host and a pfSense firewall. For the deployment of the labs I gratefully use the nested ESXi appliances and the deployment scripts as provided by William Lam. With this a complete environment will be available in no time.